W hen Underground MNL said that their event last week would be a “party,” we thought that they were using that term loosely.
This tends to happen when you work as a lifestyle reporter in the Philippines. You get exposed to a myriad of misleading marketing ploys and end up developing a suspicious mind. At the height of your skepticism, invitations that come to you are taken with grains of salt. The definitions of events provided by your sources will be seen more as expectations instead of realities. That being said, however, there are some that tend to live up to their promises and the invite to Underground MNL’s JPN X PH Vol 3 was one of them.
Dubbed as an intercultural “friendship party” featuring acts from both the Philippines and Japan, we attended the event on March 23 at Quantum expecting it to be more or less a talent show. And while we did see elements of that on display, we found something else. Soon after it started, there were people wildly dancing on the floor; sweaty bodies were grinding against each other. Confetti was falling from the ceiling, sushi was being fed to the crowd and clusters of people, regardless of their nationalities, were mingling enthusiastically as performers took to the stage. Its organizers were right to call it a party. And they were even more so when they called it intercultural.
Conceptualized by Takeshi Fukui and Junichi “Jack” Fukui, JPN X PH was designed to deepen the cultural understanding between the Philippines and Japan. It sought to do this by bringing together locals and Japanese nationals while featuring several performers who represent aspects of their respective cultures often poorly showcased by mainstream sources.
Kicking things off for the night were the Fukui’s themselves who demonstrated their martial arts prowess in quick demos. After that, the local “psychotropical” duo, Hernandez Brothers took the stage filling the venue with their seemingly tireless, percussion-heavy music. And as they hammered away, one of the night’s host, Nikki Santos-Ocampo, took to the floor with several models, parading their ethnic inspired attire from STYLE ISLE before dancing wildly, pulling audience members to join them. Santos-Ocampo even threw her shoes under the stage before continuing her dance. And after commenting on how tired she suddenly got following her performance, Japanese dancers Kensuke and Daiki performed in front of the crowd before the pale-faced Kabuki Man entered the stage for a theatrical sushi-making demo.
The event went on past midnight. And between the initial performers and the closing of the gate, the stage played host to the likes of rock bands Serefamus and On Base,
“This is important because Filipinos aren’t often given an opportunity to really showcase our contemporary culture,” said Santos-Ocampo during a previous interview with Manileño. And because of this, there are many misconceptions about the local identity. Misconceptions, however, can be remedied by experience. And we were reminded of this when we attended their event.